Sunday, July 28, 2013

Roast Pork Shoulder: Crispy Skin

O beautiful, for criiiispy skin / for amber waves

I finally got a great, crisp, flaky pork skin on my shoulder roast! Eating this does not feel healthy, but it tastes rich and delicious. The trick is that you need to salt the skin (and not put your oily, moist marinade on the skin, but under it rubbed into the meat) to draw out moisture so that it crisps up when roasting. There's a lot of oil in the skin, though, which makes it feel very rich in your mouth. Plus the salt. I prefer it on rice or probably congee would be good, too--good textural contrast (which is why you tiao, aka "Chinese donut", goes great with congee, too).

I'm still not managing to get the salty rub/marinade to penetrate to the more central regions of the roast, though. Cutting deeper slits into the meat and making sure to rub the seasoning into the cuts helps, a four- (or more) pound roast is pretty big, and it may not be possible to get to the inner regions. So that's why you eat it all together, slices from the outside to the inside, giving you the more seasoned and crusted outside to the falling-apart insides.

Continuing to tinker, so I don't really have a good recipe of my own yet. But Googling "pork shoulder roast" will bring up plenty of different approaches, including the ones I've been looking at.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

China's Culinary Diversity

Here's an article in the Atlantic discussing some very cool research going on studying China's diverse regional cuisines and what determines the links between cuisines.

And for the more data-minded, some more detailed discussion of the methodology over at MIT Technology Review.

Check 'em out!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tofu Skin Rolls

Trying new things. These are (browned then) steamed rolls with skins made from very thin sheets of tofu--a dim sum classic. Filling is commonly pork with bamboo and black mushrooms (aka shiitake). You can buy tofu skins (called fu zhu, "bean curd bamboo" in Chinese, or yuba, "hot water leaf" in Japanese) in dried form, which needs to be soaked in water to rehydrate. Once rehydrated, the skins are very delicate and tear easily. As this was my first time working with it, I had some issue with not knowing which way to cut and unfold, since the sheets are dried folded. This meant a fair amount of undesirably placed tears and shreds. Which was fine--I had more than I needed to use the filling I'd prepared, and just used the rest in a vegetable stir fry.

The filling for these kinds of foods (the other main ones being dumpling and meatball related) used to seem dauntingly time-consuming to me. But I've since gotten used to the preparation of the filling, itself--it's actually the outsides that are more troublesome, for dumplings of various sorts. Fortunately, with tofu skins, you don't have to go through the hassle of measuring and mixing the wrapping ingredients yourself; just rehydrate and go (unless you're crazy and want to make them yourself!). It still takes some time, though, working with the delicate skins, and then browning the outside to seal the flap, before finally steaming. Though, maybe you don't really have to brown the rolls before steaming...

I was concerned that the wet skins would sputter and not brown well, but surprisingly, they actually brown (without sticking!) really easily. Hmm...not sure why. Maybe because they're so thin.

Anyway, check out Chichi Wang's recipe here, which I loosely followed, along with this one from Susan Wong. Note you can just pan-fry the rolls to brown the outsides and seal the flap instead of deep-frying like Wang does, as Wong's recipe shows. However, Wang is right that you only need steam for 15-20 minutes on high (or at least, it was definitely done at 20 minutes for me). You can also just deep fry your tofu skin rolls instead of steaming, and there are recipes for that online, as well.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pretty Picture: Beer

Mesmerizing light.

(Gluten-free, of course.)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Banh Maki

So...this happened. :) "Banh Maki" because it's banh mi ingredients in a maki zushi. (I also considered titling the post "banh mushi"...sounds funnier, but also like mushy.)

Concept is good, but I need to tweak ingredients and technique. My pickling solution for the Vietnamese pickled carrots and daikon was too weak. I'd pick a little less salty a ham next time. Also would add cilantro, but didn't have it on hand for my quick experiment. Wish I had kewpie mayonnaise, but that's not essential. Sushi rice'd be nice, but more trouble than I'd want to put into what should be a relatively convenient lunch to make.

Here's a good resource on all you need to know about making and rolling sushi. Wish I'd found it before this trial. I've just been going off the casual technique I learned from my grandma and mom! Not that it really matters for casual diners.

Anyway, I just want to say, today we celebrate our great nation that allows such wonderful culinary creativity and coincidence of cultures to conspire! Happy 4th, everyone.